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12-year-old Yankees fan returned A-Rod’s record-breaking grand-slam ball

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew

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(USA Today)

We're about to be inundated by another wave of A-Rod news once his suspension appeal hearing begins on Monday. But before we get there, Newsday told a very cool story involving Rodriguez and the 12-year-old fan who ended up grabbing his record-breaking grand slam ball on Sept. 20.

According to Tara Conry's report, Steven Gieseler, 43, and his son, Steven Jr., were sitting in the right-field bleachers on the fateful night, readying themselves for the possibility of grabbing a souvenir. What they didn't expect, however, was Alex Rodriguez to step up and deliver his 24th career grand slam, passing Yankees legend Lou Gehrig for No. 1 on the all-time list.

As the ball left A-Rod's bat and made its way toward the Gieselers, it was apparent it was going to fall a few rows short. However, the ball ended up bouncing off a fan's hand and deflecting up to their row. Despite dad's best efforts, he too couldn't corral the ball. But Steven Jr. used his small stature to his advantage when he spotted the ball under a seat and quickly dropped down to retrieve it.

At that point a very valuable baseball was in his hands, and soon he'd have to decide what to do with it. Within minutes, Yankee Stadium security had arrived and was prepared to lead Steven and his father down below where they would turn the ball over to A-Rod. But it wasn't an easy decision for the younger Gieseler, and probably not for a reason you'd expect.

From Newsday:

Steven Jr. admits his initial reaction was to keep the ball. (Gehrig just happens to be his all-time favorite Yankee. He’s read all 432 pages of Jonathan Eig’s book, “Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig,” and wears No. 4 when playing on his travel baseball team, The Eyeballs.)

“I found it kind of amazing that even with his condition, he still kept upbeat and tried to keep on playing,” Steven Jr. said of Gehrig.

Steven Jr., knows and respects baseball history, but in spite of the fans urging him to keep it, he ultimately decided the rightful owner was the man who hit it.

“It’s the player’s accomplishment,” he said. “He deserves to get it back. He worked hard for it.”

There will always be debate about whether A-Rod truly earned the honor, but you can't debate Steven Gieseler Jr.'s character. That's an awfully big decision to make on the spot, and in his mind there's no doubt he made the right decision.

Friends and family have had mixed reactions to Steven Jr.’s decision to return the ball with some saying he should have kept it or at least tried to get more out of Rodriguez and others telling him he did the right thing.

“I did the right thing,” Steven Jr. said.

To A-Rod's credit, he did the right thing, too, signing a bat, ball and posing for pictures. But the real star here is Steven Gieseler Jr.

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